July 22 2020

Earlier this month, Darman Foundation hosted its first ever Uyghur Spirit Youth Conference.The conference hosted different speakers who focused on their journey towards achieving success. Attendees got the chance to listen to success stories and advice from Uyghurs around the world. 

The conference looked at different types of success, one of which was successful activism. One of the speakers was Rushan Abbas is an Uyghur American activist who provided Uyghur youth with her insight into activism, advocacy and the foundational skills to successful lobbying.

Rushan Abbas is an Uyghur American activist and advocate from the region of Xinjiang, also known as East Turkestan. ⁣She is the founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit, Campaign for Uyghurs. In 1993, Rushan Abbas both co-founded and ran the Uyghur Overseas Student and Scholars Association as the first Vice-President. Moreover, she was elected as the Vice President of the Uyghur American Association for two terms. ⁣By 1998, Radio Free Asia had launched a Uyghur Service where Ms. Abbas became the first Uyghur reporter broadcasting in East Turkistan.⁣ Since then, Ms. Abbas has been a campaigner for the human rights of Uyghur people and worked with members of the U.S. Congress. She went on to organize the ‘One Voice, One Step’ march, which was done in protest of China’s persecution and imprisonment of 3 million Uyghurs. The march was global and took place in 14 countries and 18 cities. ⁣

Rushan Abbas talks about the silence witnessed by vocal activists, politicians, professionals, and celebrities that have yet to speak about the genocide leading to the Uyghurs being collateral damage.  It is for this reason that she emphasizes the importance of being committed to educating ourselves and ensuring that we are sharing it with others at every step of the journey. 

Abbas encourages youth to find causes they are passionate about, and to fight for them. Based off her own experiences, she gives the following 10 tips to successful advocacy 

  1. Learn all that you can and from reputable sources, and always be conscious of the agenda and rhetoric. Understanding the arguments is essential
  2. Network with organizations and do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help. People who are advocating for human rights and ask for what you can do, and ask for whatever you need and ask them to help you
  3. Use social media and use it effectively, tag influential people
  4. Ask local news stations to cover the causes you think are important
  5. Know the goals of your activism, but having your own strategy is very important. Perhaps your goal is to see grassroots organizations, or petitions, or legislations pass. You need to define your goals
  6. Have a view of the type of world you want to create and live in as a picture
  7. Know how the actions you’re going to work towards that picture 
  8. Be willing to educate with the belief that people can change, do not try to alienate by using certain language 
  9. Be bold. 
  10. Effective activism requires fortitude, persistence and longevity, do not give up.

Abbas ends off her talk by reminding youth that advocacy isn’t always about the popular cause, but it’s taking the case that is right. You won’t always be admired for your efforts and thus it is essential in having character and confidence in what you are doing.